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Coronavirus: Advice for pregnant women

In the Prime Minister's briefing on Monday, he encouraged everyone to avoid all non-essential social contact, but made particular mention of pregnant women, describing it as a precautionary measure because we are early in our understanding.

Dr Sara is 30 weeks pregnant, but wanted to still join us in the studio.

'I wanted to show people that even though there are some extreme measures in place, we can get round it and we can do things to help ourselves' says Dr Sara. 'We're still very early on in what we know about pregnancy and coronavirus, that it's just a matter of taking the precautions you can to protect yourself.'

So should pregnant women be worried?

Dr Sara says: 'It's difficult because thus far I have been telling my pregnant patients not to worry particularly, but we have to see this as a precautionary measure that the government is rolling out to protect us.'

'Anxiety is always heightened in pregnancy as a mother's instinct is to protect her baby, and so to have this on top of the normal feelings is going to be difficult for many expectant mums. Even as a medical professional I feel it too. But remember that it is a safeguarding measure.'

With pregnant women now under greater protection, where does that leave those trying to conceive?

Dr Larissa says: 'The truth is, we don't know enough yet. We haven't had enough cases. We know the virus is spread through restipiratory droplets by coming into contact with others but not through sex. We are still unsure if it can affect sperm but we have no clear evidence to suggest it would. We are seeing women still become pregnant and giving birth with no damage or effect to themselves or the babies.'

Should I be reconsidering IVF?

Dr Larissa says the advice for women considering IVF is different. 'If you are wanting to begin the process, you should hold off getting pregnant just in case. Most clinics are advising to freeze the embryos because they're not sure of the effects of implantation. We don't think there are issues but we just can't be sure.'

After a newborn baby in London tested positive for the novel coronavirus just minutes after being born to a mother who was also infected with the virus.

Dr Larissa says: 'This present case we now know was not transmitted before the birth. She got the virus after she was born. Remember we are not testing as many people in the UK. We don't think so far it's possible to transmit in utero but women should be really cautious. We are learning as this goes on and I think we need to be honest about that.'

Should I be worried about breastfeeding?

'The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says mothers should still breastfeed.' said Dr Larissa. 'Separation from the baby would do more harm than good, so breastfeeding is still important. But those mothers who do have a fever will be taken straight into hospital to check for any harm and women in their third trimester will be given a precautionary check from their GP.'

Dr Sara says: 'Protect yourself like the rest of the population with handwashing and social distancing where possible. If you are worried about reduced fetal movement, bleeding or a change in discharge or you just don't feel well in yourself, call your midwife first and they will triage you as they normally would.'

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